No one with a sense of justice can fail to be outraged when, in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a jury in Maycomb, Ala., bows to social pressure and convicts an innocent man of a crime he couldn’t have committed.
The facts of the case have been hard to come by, owing to a media gag order issued by the trial judge. A journalistic feeding frenzy has long surrounded Pell, the former Catholic archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney and later the Vatican’s chief financial officer.
The trial judge was rightly concerned that opening the proceedings would make it impossible for Pell to get a fair trial on charges he forcefully denies. That order has left Australians largely in the dark. But certain facts are known, and others can be reasonably inferred.
The cardinal’s first trial ended in a hung jury, with 10 of 12 jurors in favor of acquittal.
In the retrial, the defense again demonstrated that it was physically impossible for the alleged abuse of two choirboys (one now deceased) to have occurred, given the layout and security arrangements of Melbourne’s Catholic cathedral and the fact that the choir and Pell were in two different places when the abuse was alleged to have occurred.
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